The NYC Knights lost 46-36 to the St George Illawarra Dragons on a very wet Easter Saturday at Hunter Stadium, conceding four second-half tries after leading 24-10 at half-time.
Fullback Bryce Donovan returned to the side from injury, replacing Dylan Phythian who suffered a facial injury in Round 4.
Both sides fought hard in challenging conditions, conceding a minimum of penalties and errors despite the greasy surface and slippery ball.
The Knights didn't start particularly well as they let the Dragons collect their own kick-off 20 metres out with the help of a lucky bounce.
The away side needed no second invitation, and scored thirty seconds later on the right side through forward Ryan James. Winger Bessie Aufag-Toomaga's kick was waved away, leaving the Dragons with a 4-0 lead with barely three minutes played.
The Knights retaliated at the end of their next set, pinning the Dragons into their own in-goal and subsequently forcing a line drop-out.
Braden Robson took full advantage on the right side, diving over to score in the corner. Brock Lamb was unable to convert from the sideline, locking the score at 4-4 with seven minutes played.
The Knights struck again in the 16th minute on the back of some strong build-up play, captain Levi burrowing over from dummy-half left of the uprights. Lamb converted successfully this time, pushing the score to 10-4.
It was proving to be an end-to-end contest, and three minutes later Lachlan Stein offloaded for winger William Tom to step past his marker and score. Aufag-Toomaga's kick went straight between the posts this time, pushing the score up to 10-10.
The Knights continued to threaten though, and on the back of a penalty that helped them all the way from their own line to the Dragon's, Levi scored his second beneath the uprights. Lamb nailed an easy conversion, giving the Knights a 16-10 lead with eleven minutes to play in the first half.
Eight minutes later the Knights were on the offensive again, Lamb placing an elusive diagonal grubber for centre Josh Birch to pick up and dive over. Lamb's conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the score at 20-10.
The half-time siren was poised to ring, but the Knights were hungry for another try and Robson crossed over for his second in the right corner. Lamb was again unable to convert from the sideline, leaving the half-time score at 24-10.
The Dragons started the second half in the exact same way they started the first, second-rower James forcing his way over on the right edge again with only three minutes played. Aufag-Tommaga's kick was successful, the score now 24-16.
Dragons' halfback Adam Clune then put on a burst of pace to slot through a hole in the line and chip the ball on for fullback Matthew Dufty to score between the posts. Aufag-Toomaga converted from straight in front of the uprights, pushing the score to 24-22.
The Dragons continued to build momentum and scored again in the 57th minute via Aufag-Toomaga, the winger clamping down on a pacy grubber in the right corner. Aufag-Toomaga missed the kick from an acute angle, but the Dragons still led 26-24.
From the Knights' kick-off the Dragons broke through the line again, Tom laying the platform for prop Jack Kavanagh to score a scrappy try. Aufag-Toomaga again missed his kick, the score 30-24.
The Knights managed to pull back one of their own in the 64th minute through Faitotoa Faitotoa. The rain was pelting down now but Lamb managed to convert, bringing the scores level once more.
The Dragons were the next to score, Tom crossing over for his second on the left in the 69th minute. Aufag-Toomaga couldn't convert from the sideline, leaving the score at 34-30.
Three minutes later the Dragons crossed over again, this time Dufty bagging his second following a twenty metre run. Aufag-Toomaga kicked true from in front, giving the Dragons a 40-30 lead.
The Knights refused to give up, and with two minutes left on the clock Brody Lam received a quick offload from Faitotoa to score. Lamb did exceptionally well to score from the sideline against a heavy wind, pushing the score to 40-36.
The Dragons had the last say in the contest though, five-eighth Drew Hutchinson scoring near the uprights to restore the Dragons' ten-point lead. Aufag-Toomaga converted, giving the Dragons a 46-36 win.
Newcastle Knights Knights 36 (T: Robson 2, Levi 2, Birch, Faitotoa, Lam, G: Lamb 4/6)
St George Illawarra Dragons 46
Knights: Donovan, Lam, Birch, Robson, Tofilau, Lamb, Cogger, King, Levi, D Saifiti, Smith, J Saifiti, Yates. Bench: Kelly, Faitotoa, Stone, Easton.